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Maine Chytrid Laboratory


Welcome to the Longcore Laboratory's chytrid information site. Chytrids are basal in the fungal kingdom and most chytrids form uniflagellated reproductive cells. Until recently, all zoosporic eufungi were classified in the Chytridiomycota. Advances in molecular phylogenetics, however, support the elevation of the Blastocladiales (e.g., Allomyces, Catenaria, Blastocladiella) to the Blastocladiomycota. The mammalian gut fungi are now also classified in a separate phylum, the Neocallimastigomycota. Molecular evidence suggests that some other chytrids belong to lineages independent of the Chytridiomycota; Olpidium may be more closely allied to members of the Zygomycota, and Rozella seems to be basal to the other zoosporic fungi.

We maintain a culture collection of diverse chytrids and study their systematics and taxonomy. We find chytrids by placing small bits of organic matter with water samples or soil with water added and eventually isolate them into pure culture. We can then monitor development with the light microscope and observe zoospores with transmission electron microscopy. We construct phylogenetic trees with information obtained from ribosomal DNA or other genomic regions.

How to find and isolate chytrids

Photos of chytrids in phylogenetic analyses

Chytrid Bibliography
The last inclusive monograph of the chytrids was published by F.K. Sparrow in 1960. To facilitate searches for taxonomic changes since that time, here is an updated bibliography.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
is currently receiving attention because of its ecological importance as a pathogen of amphibians. Its entire genome has been sequenced by the Broad Institute and by the Joint Genome Institute so it is also a genetically important chytrid. Photographs of B. dendrobatidis in amphibian skin and in pure culture can be found here.

MonoblepharidalesMarilyn Mollicone isolated and studied numerous members of the Monoblepharidales (Monoblepharidiomycetes). Photographs and instructions for use of cultures in teaching are available here.


For suggestions, contributions, and requests please contact Joyce Longcore.

Research leading to this website was supported by the National Science Foundation's programs Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) and Integrated Research Challanges in Environmental Biology (IRCEB). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the institutions supporting the authors.